Israel introduces surrogacy for all

Surrogacy (Surrogacy) has been open since Tuesday January 11 in Israel to male couples, single men and transgender people. It is the result of a judicial and political process initiated in 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled that it is discriminatory that it is reserved for heterosexuals and women who have difficulty giving birth.

Any resident of Israel will be able to initiate proceedings with a committee of the health ministry, which is supposed to examine the eligibility of applicants, and then approve the agreement reached with a surrogate mother. However, such a procedure remains complex for everyone, and its expansion has sparked a debate on the protection and remuneration of surrogate mothers.

This significant development in family law was not endorsed by the Israeli Parliament, to the regret of some of the activists who had defended it. It is the result of a petition addressed to the Supreme Court by gay couples. In February 2020, a panel of five judges, led by President Esther Hayut, estimated that “The general exclusion of homosexual men from the use of surrogacy is seen as discrimination suspicious”, suggesting that this share of the population is lower ”. The Court had given Parliament a year to amend the law.

Read also In Israel, Supreme Court allows surrogacy for same-sex couples

Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu, a time favorable to such a development, aligned himself with his ultra-Orthodox and Jewish supremacist allies, and did not follow through. Already in 2018, a previous retreat by Mr. Netanyahu on an amendment proposed by a minister of his own party, the Likud, had given rise to major pro-GPA protests.

A modern creation

A month after the latter’s fall, in June 2021, his successors in turn informed the Court that such a vote was politically “Unachievable” in the Knesset. The small left wing of this eight-party coalition would have had the greatest difficulty convincing its Islamo-conservative and religious right allies to openly approve it. The coalition therefore left the judges to decide, in July 2021, knowing in advance the result. On January 4, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (a member of the left-wing Meretz party) simply issued a circular amending the law, which came into effect on Tuesday.

According to an opinion poll published in August 2021 by the daily Haaretz and the Israeli Congress for Judaism and Democracy at Bar-Ilan University, half of Israelis say they are in favor the fact that same-sex couples use surrogacy.

More than half also said they were frustrated that same-sex marriage remains banned in Israel. The religious authorities watch over the monopoly that the State granted them at its creation, in 1948, on unions, separations, conversions and funerals. For the Jewish majority, the chief rabbinate, in the hands of the ultra-Orthodox, also excludes interfaith marriages. This situation pushes many lay people to unite civilly abroad, before having their union recognized by the Ministry of the Interior, a process which can prove to be long and trying. Surrogacy, on the other hand, is a modern creation. Written into law in 1996, it escapes religious authorities. This is what allows its enlargement today.

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Israel introduces surrogacy for all